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April 25, 2021

(Viet)Afghanistan – and no end in sight?

The withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan is long overdue. The military, though grudgingly, also agrees, as confirmed by Gen. Frank McKenzie (reported on 4-21-21 in the Arizona Daily Star). The American public also agrees, with hardly anyone understanding why we are wasting our money, resources, and our most precious blood there. Only columnist Michael Gerson (AZ Daily Star, 4-21-21) argues to the opposite, raising the same points as have been formulated over the last 20 years, warning about the terrible loss once we have left. Afghanistan will be overrun by the Taliban again; women will be forced out of the public; massive numbers of Afghani will try to escape to the West to avoid being killed for their collaboration with the US. And maybe, new terrorist plans will be concocted then.

Oddly, the arguments in favor of our continued presence in that far-removed dry and mountainous country sound very similar to those in defense of the endless Vietnam war, and it did not matter then how many casualties we suffered, the US still lost. Moreover, virtually not one US military intervention globally since WWII has been successful; each time we have done nothing but to act as bullies and post-colonial imperialists, so we got bloody noses (maybe with the exception of the Kosovo War, 1998-1999. All our military efforts have only strengthened the guerillas or terrorists, just as Napoleon already had to learn in the early 19th century because a standing army is almost helpless against a guerilla force based in the local population (see the failure of the UK in the Revolutionary War! So our own history should tell us not to engage in such foolish military enterprises with no-win options for ourselves.).

The British failed in Afghanistan, the Russians failed there, and we have already failed there as well, if we only face reality. Afghanistan has not transformed into a western-style democracy under our guidance, or rather control; and it is only a matter of time until the Taliban reconquer Kabul. But are they really terrorists intent on threatening the US, or do they fight to regain their own country, and have their own (tribal, fundamentalist, patriarchal, or whatever) culture rule? Our very presence, the colonialist presence of the Western forces, provides them with the ideology behind their military power, and carefully considered, irrespective of the role played by Bin Laden, the US never had any legitimate reason to invade that country. That decision under Pres. Bush jun. was a colossal mistake, an egregious failure, an absurd assumption by the US of its supreme command globally, and altogether it was plainly illegal. Only the military-industrial complex has really profited from this horrible war.

Of course, the Afghan government would like us to stay because we pay them, with our tax money, but that is nothing but a puppet regime, kid me not. None of the points raised by conservative critics, or hawks, make sense because the US do not have any intrinsic interests in that country. There is no way to use military might to transform a people’s mentality and culture, especially in a world determined by tribal structures.

Those supporting our continued presence in Afghanistan still believe that the US enjoy the role of a global power player, when much of what we pay out today is borrowed money. We still have mighty military muscles, and we can flex them well, but it is absurd to think that we must control any country in Asia and Africa. I would like to remind Gerson that the era of colonialism is over, for good, and no military operation will bring it back, not even for the US. Let’s finally learn the painful lessons the Romans had to swallow 1500 years ago.

Whether Albert Einstein said it or not, this statement holds so true: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” The Russians are very happy about our inane efforts in Afghanistan, but the American people want this to come to a stop. To operate militarily on the basis of insanity does not make sense and serves only some forces which are all opposed to us, the USA. I am sure that the Russians support the Taliban, so we are fighting there a proxy war against our arch-enemy, just as when we had supported the Taliban fighting against the Russians. This irony is not lost to anyone who can see through the web of ideology and lies created by the military-industrial complex. You might say, those companies making money from this Afghanistan War are American, so that all helps us as the American people after all. But it is infernal blood money. US tax money. So, let’s be realistic, the war in Afghanistan has never been winnable, and as much as we might want to help the people there, those who are going to be the victims of the Taliban cannot expect that we as Americans victimize ourselves in this process. There is no good trying to be colonialists in the 21st century.

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